By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector
MANCHESTER — Even as a seminary-trained minister he “didn’t have a plan” as a young parent on how to follow Proverbs 22:6, admitted Brenton Cox, pastor, First Baptist Church here.
“A lot of parents want to teach their child spiritual truths but they may not know what to do,” he noted. “They are trying to be a Christian influence in their child’s life … but they don’t have a systematic plan.”
Cox referred to the admonition to parents to “train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it,” from Proverbs 22:6.
In response, Cox and two other staff members of First, Manchester, have developed the online resource, “Train UP,” at www.manchesterfbc.com.
The pastor got the idea from another Tennessee Baptist church’s website which at one time offered age-graded information for parents.
Cox said besides his own struggles as a parent, as a pastor he has learned that a lot of teenagers and young adults who attended church transition to college or adulthood without a Christian worldview or understanding the differences among denominations.
The church should be helping parents provide the “life skills and theological truths” that children and teens need, noted Cox.
“We want the church to partner with Christian parents,” continued Cox. “Of course we provide Sunday and Wednesday activities, but we wanted to do more.”
So Cox developed an idea, brainstorming with several fellow staff members. As a result, Cox, assisted by Cyndi Cox, Christian education director of First, Manchester, his wife; and Tim Hensiek, student pastor; developed Train UP.
Train UP is an age-graded resource which begins with yearly goals for children beginning at age three and going through 12th grade. To support the goals, information and activities are provided to help parents teach their child. Also, for the older students, objectives to accomplish during the year are included.
Each section for a grade level increases in its length but even the section for a 12th grader is only seven paragraphs. Additional resources also suggested in each section range from links to online articles, questionnaires, handy digital tools such as budget guides in Excel, and referrals to videos and books.
Cyndi Cox, who developed the children’s portion of Train UP, agreed with her husband that most parents want to teach their children spiritual truths in ways besides bringing them to church but they may not know what is age appropriate.
Actually both Proverbs and Deuteronomy 6 directs parents to assume responsibility for the spiritual training of their children, said Cyndi Cox, who holds a master’s degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas.
For a 3-year-old, the activities center around using crafts as a teaching tool but can involve more time and thus more chance for learning than the several hours a week a child is taught at church, explained Cox.
For an 11th grader, a succinct section on different denominations and religions is presented by Tim Hensiek, student pastor, with help from Brenton Cox.
The content includes history, analysis, and up-to-date reporting. Candidly, the section reports, “Today denominations are losing their importance and non-denominational churches are growing. This is both good and bad. It is good that we may be coming together. It is bad that we do not care as much about doctrine any more.”
Finally, both of the Coxes reported that the response to Train UP, which was available Jan. 4, has been good.
Brenton Cox explained that Train UP also will help grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends of students, and families who have a spouse who is in the military or away for other reasons. Everyone involved can easily access the information whenever they wish and share in the experience though they live in different locations if all of those involved have access to the Internet.
Train UP is pulled from various resources and its ideas are not original so the church is glad for it to be shared. Church leaders only ask that if the content is copied, that Train UP of First Baptist Church, Manchester, be given credit.
“Anybody can be an advocate in a child’s life and try to be a Christian influence in their life,” said Brenton Cox.